10 Common Beauty Blunders of Women 50+
Update your same-old routine with new products and techniques
by Lois Joy Johnson, AARP, July 28, 2022
Do you think matte makeup hides your wrinkles? Are you still blow-drying your hair the way you did at 35? Do you line your eyes like a pro but wonder why they itch? Unlike most celebs who have a glam squad of advisers on speed dial, most women make beauty choices based on a combination of online browsing, personal experience and an optimistic attitude. Sometimes, though, even that doesn't work. No worries! You’re just making the same mistakes everyone does. Here are 10 of the most common blunders and how to get back on track. If you are:
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); CVS
1. Tight-lining dry, sensitive eyes
Lining the inside rims of your upper lids (called tight-lining) is a neat trick to shape and dramatize hooded eyes or crepey lids. It powers up peepers and appears nearly invisible. Unfortunately, it’s a potential fast track to styes, redness, itching and other allergic reactions or infections. Let it go. For the same effect apply a densely pigmented black or dark brown gel pencil — like the Morphe 2 Always Online Gel Eyeliner in Chocolate Cravin or Power Off ($6, target.com) or Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil in Demolition or Perversion ($22, target.com) — just above and between the roots of your upper lashes. Use short back and forth strokes instead of one continuous line. Next, double line right over the pencil using a black or brown powder shadow like Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow in Night Sky ($4, cvs.com) and a small, firm eyeliner brush to intensify the line. Keep the liner and powder as close as possible to the lash roots so all attention goes to your eyes — not the liner. Just add black mascara and you’ve got it!
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
2. Not practicing safe hair techniques
Whoops! Sometimes you can so caught up in making hair fuller or sleeker that breakage, split ends and brittle strands move right in. Prevention is always easier than repair. You don’t need a shelf of hair products either. Just make a leave-in conditioner — like Pantene Pro-V Moisture Detangling Leave-In Conditioner ($5, target.com), It’s a 10 Blowdry Miracle Glossing Leave-In Conditioner ($25, target.com) or Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat Leave-In Conditioner ($15, target.com) — an essential multitasking partner to your usual shampoo and conditioner. It’ll gently unsnarl wet hair, keep porous locks from snapping and protect your locks from heat styling. Pull your hair back often? Choose softer elastics like scrunchies to loosen tension on strands and scalp too.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
3. Stopping skin care at the chin
For years beauty devotees have lavished attention on facial skin trying one “miracle” cream or serum after another. Many even grudgingly but wisely made face SPF a must-do part of an a.m. routine. Sadly, hands, neck and chest have been left on their own. They’re often the real giveaway to age. Start the solution by erasing the cutoff point and continuing daily face creams like Olay Regenerist Ultra Rich Hydrating Moisturizer for Dry Skin - Fragrance Free ($30, target.com) right down to the bra line. Next, be sure to apply an all-year sunscreen like Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($22, target.com) or Native Unscented Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($20, target.com) each day to your neck, upper chest and the backs of your hands (these won’t stain clothes or leave hands greasy or slippery) — and reapply as needed.
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PHOTO BY: CVS; Nordstrom (2)
4. Ignoring your eyebrows
If you have bangs or wear glasses most of the time this is probably you. Or if brow makeup seems too much bother without the fun component of, say, lipstick, then ditto. Not doing something to help them is the equivalent of not wearing a bra. No need to rush out and get microbladed or deal with stencils and layers of pomades and powders. A tapered tip brow pencil with a spiral brush at one end — like the NYX Professional Makeup Micro Brow Pencil ($11, cvs.com), Anastasia Brow Wiz Mechanical Brow Pencil ($23, nordstrom.com) or Benefit Cosmetics Precisely, My Brow Pencil ($24, nordstrom.com) — makes shaping brows, filling in gaps and creating new tails easy and fast. Choose a shade that blends with your own or is slightly lighter. Just sketch hairlike strokes along your brow’s natural shape to create a fuller, more contemporary but natural-looking brow. Then do a final blending with the spoolie brush to help blend and slightly blur all.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora; Walgreens; Rite Aid
5. Relying on acrylic or gel nails for glamour
While many women have worn these fake nail extensions for years, the danger of thin, peeling and weakened real nails lurks beneath. The constant filing and buffing of the nail surface is damaging, the chemicals used can cause irritation or even contact dermatitis, the UV lamps used to set them are a pathway to wrinkles and age spots on the backs of your hands, and the removal relies heavily on a harsh acetone soak. Not convinced yet? As the nails grow out the exposed gap is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Yuck. Why not skip the fakes and paint your own nails (even short ones!) with glossy polish for a modern look that leaves you free to do practical things? Try a sheer healthy pink like Dior Nail Glow ($30, sephora.com) or a vegan 8-free polish in a current color like the Essie Expressie Quick Dry Nail Polish in Turn Up the Century or IRL ($10, walgreens.com), and massage a delicious balm like the Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream ($6, riteaid.com) on cuticles and nails to keep your paws healthy.
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PHOTO BY: Target; CVS; Sephora
6. Relying on dry shampoo way too much
The body-building boost of dry shampoo, its hair-freshening scent and the way it allows many women the freedom to skip a real shampoo for days ... sometimes a week — is a big win. But dry shampoo does not actually clean your hair or remove dead cells, oil and sweat at the scalp the way real shampoo does. Instead, it absorbs excess oil. Frequent use can leave a residue that blocks hair follicles at the root and may cause your head to feel itchy or irritated. By all means use dry shampoo once or twice a week, but be sure to do a thorough wet shampoo with scalp massage and a thorough rinse to get rid of all stubborn dry shampoo residue. You might try sulfate-free formulas — such as the Eva NYC Freshen Up Invisible Dry Shampoo ($12, target.com) or Better Not Younger Fresh Start Scalp Renewing Dry Shampoo ($29, sephora.com) — and add a scalp detox scrub like Hers Detox Scalp Scrub ($15, cvs.com) to ensure a good thing isn’t too much of a good thing.
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PHOTO BY: CVS; Kohl's; Amazon
7. Using a dryer brush incorrectly
Styling dryers like the paddle-style InfinitiPro by Conair The Knot Dr. All-In-One Smoothing Dryer Brush ($45, cvs.com) and the round Bed Head Blow Out Freak One-Step Dry + Volume ($60, amazon.com) make beauty lives easier. Brush dryers are efficient, but can they damage mature hair? The answer is no, so long as you use them correctly. But many don’t. Starting with sopping wet hair is a recipe for breakage. This is when strands are most vulnerable. First, use a microfiber towel like the Aquis Original Hair Drying Towel in Teal ($21, kohls.com) to blot and absorb excess water. Apply your leave-in/detangler/heat protectant and gently comb through. Next, either air-dry partially or semi dry your hair with an ordinary blow dryer until it’s around 70 percent dry. Now pick up your brush dryer. Stick to a medium rather than super-hot setting (since your hair is already partially dry) and work front to back. The front of your hair — including bangs, hairline and crown — is the most visible and most vulnerable to heat and manipulation.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora; Walgreens; Target (2)
8. Applying face makeup that’s too heavy or too matte
Glowy makeup is surefire winner. Yet many hang on to full-coverage, long-wear or matte foundations. Yes, they sure do cover — but they also play up lines and wrinkles and create a masky look. You’ve probably tried (and ditched) sheer formulas like tinted moisturizer, BB or CC creams because they don’t deliver the coverage you prefer. So here’s a new plan: Stick to real foundations but switch to radiance-boosting formulas like Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Flawless Foundation ($44, sephora.com), L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation SPF 50 ($17, walgreens.com) or Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation ($7, target.com). Created specifically for mature dry skin (note the key words: dewy, luminous, radiant), they amp up the glow and layer for extra camouflage when and where needed. Final step? Whether you apply makeup with fingers, sponge or foundation brush, dampen a makeup sponge like the EcoTools BioBlender Makeup Sponge ($5, target.com) and press it gently over deep lines and grooves to catch any excess you may have applied.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora (2); Ulta Beauty (3)
9. Relying on one concealer
Most women have a few eye pencils, several shadows and a bunch of lipsticks, but when it comes to concealer, they expect one product to cover all. It won’t happen. You need at least two concealers: a dense product to cover brown spots and random blemishes; and a lighter, more hydrating formula to correct and camouflage darkness in the eye area. Choose a creamy but opaque concealer — like the Bobbi Brown Skin Concealer Stick ($32, sephora.com) or Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer Duo Stick ($32, ulta.com) — to cover brown spots, broken capillaries and redness around the nose. Gently tap blend it on, feathering the edges until they disappear. For the super dry eye area, choose a hydrating silky concealer wand with a brush or doe-foot applicator — like the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer ($31, sephora.com), e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Brightening Concealer ($6, ulta.com) or Estée Lauder Double Wear Radiant Concealer ($32, ulta.com) — and tap blend. Instead of a skin-tone match, choose shades with a warm golden or peachy undertone to neutralize hints of brown, blue or red tones that make discolorations stand out.
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PHOTO BY: Pattern; LolaVie; Jones Road; Goop; JLo Beauty; Flower Beauty
10. Not giving change a chance
Getting out of a beauty comfort zone is not easy. It's natural to like the reliable, dependable and familiar — whether it's in products, brands, color cosmetics or hair styles. Because of this, it's easy to miss out on better options and innovations. Look at how you've learned to love joggers, wireless support bras and booties. Try swapping out one tried-and-true skin, hair or makeup item for an update. Start with brands created by peers you recognize — like Jones Road Beauty by Bobbi Brown, JLo Beauty by Jennifer Lopez, Flower Beauty by Drew Barrymore, Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross, Goop Beauty by Gwyneth Paltrow and LolaVie by Jennifer Aniston. They know and understand the concerns all women face because they deal with the same issues. Give them a try.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.